This traditional Bolognese sauce is made using all the authentic ingredients like beef, pork, fresh tomato purée, then cooked low and slow for hours to develop a rich, hearty taste.
Bolognese sauce, also known in Italy as ragú, originates from one of my favorite Italian cities, Bologna. Bolognese sauce is a rich, thick meat sauce that cooks for 4 hours. I did a lot of research before writing this recipe as there are many variations of Bolognese, but this recipe is as close to the real thing. The meats used in a Bolognese sauce are traditionally 50% each of ground beef and pork with a really great flavor booster, pancetta (Italian unsmoked bacon). Onion, carrots, celery and garlic are cooked when the meat is browned. White wine is added (not red, white is traditional) along with a good quality tomato puree, milk and beef stock. The longer this sauce is simmered, the better the flavor so set aside a good 4 hours for the best result. When one would expect oregano or basil to be used in an Italian recipe, seasonings are very minimal in Bolognese. Only salt and pepper is used.
I’ve created a recipe video so you can see how the recipe is made. Just press play!
This traditional Bolognese recipe makes 3 quarts/12 cups of sauce. You will need a large pan for this and the reason I made so much is because this sauce is going in a traditional lasagna. Which is also very large and really good! You can find that recipe here > lasagna Bolognese.
This sauce is not only used in lasagna, Bolognese is also served with wide, flat tagliatelle, a pasta that can hold the weight of the sauce.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 ½ pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 1 ½ pounds ground pork
- 6 ounces pancetta chopped finely
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 11 ounces large onion finely chopped
- 2 ounces celery stalks finely chopped
- 6 ounces carrots finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves grated or finely chopped
- 1 cup white wine or red if you prefer
- 37 ounces good quality can tomato puree
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup beef stock
To a large, heavy saucepan add the oil and butter over medium-high heat.
When the butter is melted and bubbly, add the beef, pork, pancetta, salt, pepper. Brown, breaking up the meat while cooking.
When the meat is browned, add the onion, celery and carrots, mix well and cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the wine, stir and allow to cook and reduce slightly for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomato purée, milk, stock and mix well.
Partially cover and simmer for 4 hours, stirring often to prevent it sticking to the bottom. If any fat rises to the top, use a spoon to skim it off.
When done, taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.